Worst engines ever?

Why is it that 99 times out of 100 the car in front of me that’s making all that smoke is a Volkswagen diesel? I know diesel engines tend to make smoke, but not like this. I’m talking about smoke so thick, barfing out of these cars when they accelerate, that it’s difficult to see through at all. Never mind trying to breathe; if I don’t shut off my fan and close my windows fast enough, it’s coughing/gasping/headache city.

A knowledgeable friend of mine refers to diesel engines as “Doctor Diesel’s Little Smokers” – a reference to the inventor, Rudolf Diesel. According to the reference material, diesel engines spew black smoke, which is mostly particulate carbon, when one or more of the following is true:

  • the air cleaner is plugged;
  • one or more of the fuel injectors is malfunctioning;
  • the engine timing is incorrect; or
  • one or more cylinders has poor compression (bad rings, valves or guides).

Okay, so the drivers of these vehicles need to get them serviced. But why mostly Volkswagens? Is it just that there are so many diesel Volkswagens on the road? Are VW owners less likely to service their vehicle? To notice the problem? To realize it can be fixed? Or are VW diesel engines just crap?

I really wonder if these people notice all that smoke. Maybe they look at the back of their car and wonder why they can’t read the license plate for all the soot. I know I’m not helping by shaking my fist at them as I floor it to get in front of them. They probably just think I’m nuts.

In my opinion, diesel cars are stupid. I understand the fuel economy issue when it comes to trucks and buses, but for a basic commuter car? Is the marginal cost saving worth giving the world emphysema? Folks, if you’re going to drive a diesel car, at least be aware of the smoke potential and find a mechanic that knows how to fix it. And use decent diesel fuel, please.

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